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Rebels yell for spot in finals

High-five: Ben Mowen (Brumbies), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), James Horwill (Reds), Matt Hodgson (Force) and Gareth Delve (Rebels).

High-five: Ben Mowen (Brumbies), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), James Horwill (Reds), Matt Hodgson (Force) and Gareth Delve (Rebels). Photo: Getty Images

MELBOURNE coach Damien Hill will not publicly state the target, but he knows the arithmetic. To reach the goal that has been voiced by several Rebels players of playing finals this season, the club will most likely need to win more than twice the number of games than it did in 2012.

The Rebels won four games in finishing 13th last season, and three games in their inaugural season when they finished bottom. Last year, teams from the fifth-placed Bulls to the eighth-placed Hurricanes won 10-from-16 games and the Rebels are believed to have privately set that as their goal.

Hill, talking at the launch of the Super Rugby season in Melbourne on Wednesday, said only that ''the expectations on the team this year are high''.

''I'm not going to put a number on it,'' Hill said. ''We want to win as many games as we can and if it's enough to get us into finals contention that's exactly what we're after.

''The point of difference between those four teams [last year] was their defence and that's one of the many areas of our game we've focused on during the pre-season to improve.

''We were the second-most improved team in the competition last year behind the Brumbies. There's confidence in the team, we've had a great pre-season, the squad's feeling strong, but that means nothing unless it turns into a result.''

Queensland captain James Horwill said he expected to see such improvement from the Rebels this season, although he predicted that they could fall just short of the finals.

Horwill said the Rebels ''had the ability to be a very, very good side'' but needed to find the belief to win games even when they were not playing to their best. He said he saw similarities to the Reds teams in the years before they won the title in 2011. The Rebels lost five games by seven points or less last season.

''The thing with this competition is consistency, being able to play well week in and week out and win games where you might not play your best game,'' Horwill said. ''I think that's an ability that can come with confidence … there is no way to try and train that, you've just got to have a confidence and belief that you can win games when you are in tough situations and that's the most important thing.''

Friday's season-opener against Western Force at AAMI Park will mark big-name recruit Scott Higginbotham's first game for the Rebels. Higginbotham has been named at blindside breakaway despite having not played in the trials because of a shoulder injury.

Former teammate Horwill said Higginbotham would live up to the expectations placed on him.

''He certainly brings his aggression and physicality. He's quite a dynamic ball carrier, he likes to sit out wide in the backs and play quite loose and quite aggressive,'' Horwill said. ''He's a fantastic lineout option, he'll be really good for those guys. If you look at the team they've picked for this weekend they've got three excellent lineout jumpers and Gareth's [Delve] a fourth, so that will certainly be a strength for them.''

Force coach Michael Foley said he expected the result would come down to a battle of the forwards.

''The Rebels forwards that we've talked about [have been] Higginbotham, Gareth Delve at No.8 … I think it is an interesting selection that they've left Cadeyrn Neville on the bench but again that just tells you what sort of depth they've got in the back five of their scrum,'' he said.

Foley lamented his team's recent poor record against the Rebels with three losses from their past three.

''The Rebels have had some fantastic wins and I think their recruitment's been extremely good,'' Foley said.

■Western Force skipper Matt Hodgson confirmed he wouldn't play on Friday night.

''I trained again today so it's all positive,'' Hodgson said of his hamstring problem. ''I think I won't be playing but I should be right for round two.''

With aap

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR vs HUR 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BLU 04:10FSS
CHF vs CRU 17:35WS
REB vs BRU 19:40AAMI
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs SHA 02:05Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs STO 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 2 1 1 0 42 6
Hurricanes 2 2 0 0 18 8
Stormers 2 2 0 0 23 8
Chiefs 2 2 0 0 7 8
Rebels 2 1 1 0 0 5
Sharks 2 1 1 0 11 6
Cheetahs 1 1 0 0 6 5
Force 2 1 1 0 0 5
View all
 
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